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Wanted: Energy efficiency standards for data centers

By Linda Leung
February 6, 2008 12:00 PM ET

Network World - Companies in the midst of consolidating their data centers to save energy and cut costs are looking for some standards assistance. What's needed are yardsticks for rating the energy efficiency of data centers and tools for monitoring energy consumption in multivendor environments, said speakers at the Green Grid's first Technical Forum, held Tuesday in San Francisco.

Allstate Insurance Co., which is consolidating four data centers to two, is pursuing a silver rating from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standard for sustainable construction for its second data center, slated to open in the spring of 2009. However, "LEED is not designed for data centers but focuses on commercial buildings with people" in them, said Brandi L. Landreth, director of continuity management and data center strategy at the insurance company. She called for a ratings standard that would apply specifically to data centers.

Landreth also called for the technology industry to create a tool for monitoring and managing energy consumption across multivendor systems, and she suggested that vendors should provide clear product road maps that would enable customers to plan their data centers for the next two, five and 10 years. She acknowledged, however, that it would be impossible to predict as far ahead as five or 10 years.

Furthermore, Landreth urged attendees to consider the data center's physical building and IT systems as a holistic entity when drawing up their green computing plans, saying that electrical vendors are now starting to network-attach their systems for easier monitoring.

Education required

A number of speakers at the Green Grid event said user education was the first challenge to greening their data centers. Educating internal users -- even IT staffers such as application developers -- and computer component vendors of the need to focus on data center efficiency instead of raw speed and power were two such challenges.

"We had to educate our applications department that there would be no loss of performance" from their servers due to consolidation, Landreth said. The development department was told to either use Allstate's virtualized servers or pay for their own. The department chose the free processing.

At Automatic Data Processing Inc. (ADP), which three years ago consolidated from 20 data centers to two, going green meant talking to new partners -- computer component manufacturers -- instead of the usual computer hardware suppliers, said Renalto Crocetti, corporate vice president at the payroll services company.

When Crocetti first started to discuss energy efficiency with component manufacturers, such as storage and processor vendors, they still had "automobile syndrome," preferring to "race for raw speed and power" rather than energy efficiency, Crocetti said. This has changed, he added.

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2012 Network World, Inc. All rights reserved.
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